I felt called by God to work in secondary schools for many years, to smash the myth that Christianity was boring, out-of-date and irrelevant. I lost all records of anything I did in this area of ministry until I found an old paperback book by George Brucks, European Director of Youth For Christ, called, “They Touched A Million”, in which I found the following extract:
“Tony Cummins, one of the writers of Buzz magazine, went back to school to find God chalking up quite a reputation. He found that Britain’s creative communicators are bringing laughter, heart-searching, even applause, to thousands of school pupils. He wrote the following vivid description of a day in school with Steve Flashman: ‘His ruddy schoolboy face [one of the pupils] is oddly pale, flashing simultaneous hints of bravado and incredulity. As if hypnotised he stares at the slim, moustached stranger and the metal object glinting in the man’s hand. The packed classroom, which a few seconds before had echoed with raucous banter, is now deathly quiet.
‘Forty pairs of fascinated eyes dart between the stranger who slowly and deliberately raises the gun-sights to eye level and the boy, on whose hapless head rests a small, green apple.
The crack of the gun retort is unnervingly loud. A wisp of acrid smoke curls from the barrel as 4C swivel again to stare, open-mouthed in awful anticipation at their classmate.
“This time I was using blanks,” explains the stranger coolly. As the classroom explodes in laughter, the boy returns unsteadily to his desk, his complexion now a similar shade to the apple he holds in his hand.
Steve Flashman (a name suitable for any spaghetti western) fired blanks from his gun on that cold day late last year at Orpington comprehensive. For the rest of that Tuesday, he was using strictly live ammunition. In three consecutive lessons of head-spinning variety, Steve spoke penetratingly on sex and money, sang songs while perched precariously on a desktop, organised an ‘SAS strength test’ and poured forth a stream of jokes and stories.
As he entertained, he challenged. He spoke directly and clearly about a God who transformed lives and about a world that wouldn’t believe.
He spoke about the spirit of unbelief in the twentieth century when nothing is accepted as true. To make his point he recounted a tale of shooting an apple off a school friend’s head and then asked who believed his story. Few hands went up.
Steve Flashman has many strings to his crossbow. An ordained Baptist minister, broadcaster and writer, he performed at last year’s Greenbelt. But it is the work that Steve does in Britain’s secondary schools that is the focal point of his ministry.
It is a work that is often misunderstood or ignored by the Church at large. Yet it is work of huge importance for the growth and, in human terms, the survival of Christianity in Britain.
It is a task that demands gifts as diverse as the ability to argue a theological point with a humanist sixth-former one day and eat a rose petal sandwich to grab the attention of the bored and jaded bottom stream the next. In spite of this, it is work that has attracted some of the Church’s most able and dedicated toilers-in-Christ. He is one of a new army of creative communicators-trained and equipped to bring the good news of Christ to thousands of school pupils in the blackboard jungle of Britain’s schools.”
So that’s what I did! I loved it.